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How Harvard’s new “lung-on-a-chip” model is driving COVID-19 drug discovery

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One of the challenges facing scientists looking for new ways to combat COVID-19 is how effective they are in the human respiratory tract, even when pitching drug candidates against the virus in cell culture. It is not possible to accurately predict whether it is. Two Harvard teams have developed a new lung-on-chip model that they believe can solve the problem. One of them has already discovered an existing drug that could be reused in the fight against COVID-19.

A team led by the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University uses a microfluidic device designed to mimic the human lung airways, and the antimalarial drug amodiaquine causes COVID-19 SARS-CoV- 2 We found that it prevented the virus from invading lung cells. The researchers tested the results in a small animal model of the virus, the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering reported.

A model created by the Wyss team called the Lung Airway Chip contains two channels. One is filled with air and the other contains fluids that mimic human vascular cells and blood flow. Researchers said that a model about the same size as a Memory Stick grows airway cell types and develops characteristics similar to those of the human lung.

Rather than infecting the lung airway chip with the live SARS-CoV-2 virus, it is a dangerous proposal. Peplomers have the ability to bind to the ACE2 receptor in human lung cells. ” Description Co-authors Haiqing Bai, Ph.D., and Wyss postdoctoral fellows said in a statement.

Interestingly, lung models revealed that the two antimalarial drugs that caused the enthusiasm early in the pandemic, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, did not prevent the COVID-19 virus from entering the lungs. However, amodiaquine did so, as did the breast cancer drug toremifene and the fertility drug clomiphene. However, the researchers reported that amodiaquine was the most potent of the three and reduced chip infection by 60%.

Relation: Pfizer’s Vizimpro is one of three FDA-approved drugs that fight COVID-19 in lung cells: Report

The second respiratory model, created by researchers at Harvard University Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was designed to mimic the alveolar tissue below the human lung. The 3D model was able to grow airway cells and simulate human respiration. report It is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Brigham and Women’s team plans to use this model to study how the COVID-19 drug affects cells in the lower lung. Researchers also believe that it will help study how new SARS-CoV-2 mutants cross the lungs and interact with drug treatment. Lung-on-chip may also advance research into other lung diseases, including lung cancer, they said.

“For COVID-19, there was very little timeline to develop a treatment. In the future, with these models at hand, treatments could be used in urgent situations with limited clinical trials. Easy to use for research and testing. ” Said Co-authors Y. Shrike Zhang, Ph.D. Associates Brigam and Women’s bioengineers in a statement.

For Wyss researchers, we worked with scientists at Mount Sinai School of Medicine to test amodiaquine against hydroxychloroquine in an animal model of COVID-19. In addition to reducing the viral load by 70%, they reported that amodiaquine had a 90% chance of preventing the transmission of the virus. The drug is currently being tested in patients with COVID-19 in Africa.

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